Rider: Steve Anthes, Malo, Washington
Occupation: Retired media producer
Current rides: 1982 Honda FT500 Ascot, 1984 Honda Gold Wing GL1200 Standard, 2003 Honda Nighthawk 750
Steve's story: "I'm retired, with a lot of time on my hands and cautious not to drive the wife nuts, so every year I find a project bike on Craigslist and make it my winter project. After seven projects, I thought I was done with this phase of late-life crisis, so after finishing refurbishing and selling a 1971 Bultaco Matador, I started looking for a bike ready to ride. I was thinking of a Kawasaki KLR650, but changed my mind when I saw the headline of an ad for a '1982 Honda Ascot in mint condition.'
"A couple of pictures from 10 feet out looked good to me, and the ad said 'in showroom condition.' Excited, I called the seller, who told me he wasn't into motorcycles and the Ascot had sat for 12 years in his garage. We all know how emotions and motorcycles make for irrational decisions, but I couldn't resist an '82 Ascot with 2,000 miles on the clock. I told the seller I wanted the bike, but I live six hours away. He had other lookers and if I wanted the bike I had to pay him up front. So I did something I've never done when buying a bike... a few clicks of the mouse on PayPal and the bike was mine.
"When I arrived at the seller's, the bike was parked in his driveway. I jumped out of my truck and checked out the bike... that I now owned. The plastic seat cowl was cracked down the middle. 'Hey, that's not mint' I said. 'Oh... didn't I tell you about that?' The tank had some chips, the back brake was locked on and the engine would only idle and died when I gave it throttle. That's not mint! But, I kept thinking: an '82 Ascot with 2,000 miles... you'll never find another. So I loaded her up and headed home.
"Once up on the rack I could see the bike had never been cleaned and was put away wet and dirty. The chain barely flexed and was caked with waxy chain lube. I split the chain, cleaned it and the sprockets and got to work on the brakes. The pistons in both calipers were frozen. I've done many brake rebuilds, but this was the worst. It took me days and copious amounts of liquid wrench, compressed air and yanking with pliers to free the last piston. I had to buy one new piston along with new seals and pads. I flushed the tank and sent the carb off for a complete rebuild to Mike Nixon at the Motorcycle Project. New gas and a rebuilt carb and the thumper was thumping.
"A week after I bought the Ascot I went under the knife for back surgery. This winter I'll strip the bike down to the frame and engine and go through the whole bike doing my three R's: repairing, replacing and refurbishing. Yes, emotions got the best of me buying this Ascot, but I don't regret it. Only made for two years, it's a classic vintage bike and I look forward to not hiding her, but riding her."